I often say that how we care about others is closer to the kind of emotional care and support that we needed in our lives as children. And the ways that we care about and give ourselves attention around the very same kinds of issues, is much closer to the kind of emotional support that we received when we were small.
Interesting idea, huh?
I believe that most parents and caregivers want to do the very best that they can, it’s just that they often come up short in their attempts to provide for their children’s emotional needs. Especially if that was not something emphasized in their own childhood.
It’s not a judgement, it’s merely a common occurrence, that sadly, for many people, has a long-standing impact on their ability to find satisfaction in their lives and relationships.
Remember: perception is reality.
It doesn’t really matter whether or not a parent wants to show up emotionally for their child; what matters most is whether or not they are open and connected enough to their child to make sure their child feels supported.
So that when their child is not getting what they need, the parent / caregiver is open enough to receiving that feedback and adjusting accordingly.
That’s what matters.
So for those of you who would like to know more about this, I have an experiment that I’d like for you to try that will help you learn more about how it felt to be emotionally supported in your childhood.
Remember, there’s no “right or wrong” way to live an experiment. The whole purpose of an experiment or challenge is to have an experience and learn something about yourself in the process.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
- Find a quiet space in which you can meditate or focus on a difficult aspect about yourself or your life that you often struggle to be compassionate towards yourself about. It could be a difficult feeling, a physical characteristic, a habit, behavior, a difficult relationship, situation at work or home.
- Consider how this difficult characteristic or aspect of your life shows up. Write down a few words, adjectives or phrases to describe how you feel towards yourself as a result of this experience.
- Next I want you to take a moment, clear your mind and imagine someone in your life that you care deeply about. It might be a best friend, a family member, a co-worker, a child, a person from a movie or story.
- Consider that this person was struggling with the very same issue that you have a hard time with about yourself. How do you feel towards them about their struggle? Write down a few words, adjectives or phrases to describe how you feel towards your friend as a result of their experience.
- Compare your two lists. Are they the same? Different? Anything surprising you about your list? Your friend’s list?
- Does your friend struggling in this same way change the way that you feel towards this experience if it’s them? Do you notice your heart softening towards your friend and stiffening back up when it comes to you?
- Consider, for a moment, how difficult it feels to consider being as kind and compassionate with yourself as you with this special person. Does this seem like an impossible task?
- Do you imagine that your life would be different if you could be as kind towards yourself as you are others? If so, how?
- Wrap up in whatever way feels comfortable to you.